Wednesday, 23 April 2014

How to pitch a Bell Tent in eleven easy steps

I am the deliciously pretentious owner of half a genuine Bell Tent.  Fortunately the Other Half owns the other half* so there has never yet been a scheduling conflict.

One of the most wonderful features of a Bell Tent, after the distinctive aesthetic, is the ease of pitching.  One person can erect one of these beauties alone fairly swiftly.  It's downright speedy when there's more than one of you.  And here's how we go about it, with excessive picture references:

First, pick a spot and lay out your under-tent tarp

Pick a nice level spot with suitable windbreaks and, if possible, a beautiful view.  If camping in a group it's nice to all face the entries to your tents into a central space.  The tarp prevents the bottom of your groundsheet from getting covered in grass and mud or soaking the canvas when you put it away.  And another layer between you and the cold, hard ground is always a bonus.

Second, peg out your tent

On this particular occasion, this broke the mallet.  Now we have a nice new wooden mallet that will hopefully last longer than the season-and-a-half its predecessor managed.  Now is also the time to tuck the corners of the under-tent tarp under the tent.  For pretties.

Third, find the door

A small but vital step, should be fairly easy to find if you remember where you decided to put it during step 2.

Fourth, leave your shoes outside and enter the tent

This prevents your mucky shoes from leaving detritus all over the inside of the groundsheet and reduces the number of passes required with the tent hoover** later.

Fifth, unpack your chandelier

This step can be skipped if you have no chandelier.  But you should have a chandelier.  Canvas and candelight, what could possibly go wrong?  We keep ours in its original box for now but sometimes the bubble wrap causes difficulties.

Sixth, check where the centre of your tent is

This may not be a strictly necessary step, but I like the way it all looks rather like the Sorting Hat in this picture.

Seventh, insert centre pole

This step is easiest if you have a willing volunteer/conscript/minnion/friend construct said pole and pass it in to you, so you can stay in the centre of the tent, but it can be managed singlehandedly without incident.

Eighth, erect the pole remembering to include chandelier

Up you go!  If you were clever and marked a little cross on the floor of the tent to let you know where the centre is you can make use of that now.  Sliding the chandelier under the foot of the pole at this point is easiest.  You can lift the foot of the pole once everything's pegged out, but it's far easier to do now.

Ninth, add the door pole

There's a secret to this: pass the door pole into the tent feet first with one of the joints nearest the bend still unjoined.  Pop the doorframe out into the correct 'V' shape once in the tent.  Poke the pokey bit through the designated hole and tie down the feet with the ties provided either side of the doorway.

Tenth, peg out the guyropes

Discover one missing and remember that at the end of your last trip as you struck the tent in the rain it came undone so you put it somewhere safe to re-attach later and it has never been seen again.  Improvise with string, while also improvising a mallet with a rock.

Eleventh, add bunting, get the kettle on and start enjoying your camping experience

I manufactured the bunting myself, in rather a hurry, out of a worn-out duvet cover.  I am rather pleased with it.  And a cuppa is exactly what a thirsty work crew needs before they furnish the newly-erected abode.

* I can't claim the credit for this joke, she made it first.
** More on this in a subsequent post.  It is a truly marvelous contraption.

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